Qui, Que and Dont

Look at the following sentences: This is my friend. My friend got good marks.

This structure is rather clumsy and awkward and most people would say: This is my friend who got good marks.

The same is true in French- you can link sentences together using qui, que or dont, but you need to know which one to use.(qui/que and dont can be used for animate and inanimate objects so they are the same as who, which, that etc.)

Qui

Consider the sentence:

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My friend is the subject of the second clause - my friend did the 'getting of good marks' so we link the sentences with qui

  • Voici mon ami qui a reçu de bonnes notes

All the following sentences would use qui - the item in the first clause is the subject of the second clause:

  • This is the girl who kissed me
  • There's that boy who beat me up
  • Anne, who hadn't felt well all day, threw up over John on the coach
  • David, who has fancied Abi for ages, finally asked her out last week.

Que

Now consider this sentence:

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My friend is the object of the second clause - (I is the subject, my friend is the object) so we link the sentence with que

  • Voici mon ami que j'ai vu dans le parc

All the following sentences would be linked with que - the item in the first clause is the object of the second clause

  • This is the girl who I kissed
  • There's that boy who David beat up
  • Anne, who John had been chatting up on the coach, was sick
  • David, who Abi has fancied for ages, finally asked her out last week.

Dont is similar to qui and que. It is used to link sentences but means of whom/of which/about whom etc. It is used when the verb in the second clause is followed by de. You cannot end a sentence or a clause with de in French so:-

  • The man who I was talking about/of - L'homme que je parlais de

becomes

  • The man about whom I was talking - L'homme dont je parlais.

Lots of verbs in French take de when they don't in English.

This is shown below:

to need Here's the book that I need
avoir besoin de Voici le livre dont j'ai besoin
to use Here's the book that I use every day
se servir de Voici le livre dont je me sers tous les jours
to fear/to be scared of Here's the teacher I'm scared of
avoir peur de Voici le prof dont j'ai peur

Dont can also mean whose

  • Voici le garçon dont le père est maire = This is the boy whose father is mayor
  • L'homme, dont le frère est notre facteur, est très riche = The man, whose brother is our postman, is very rich.

Fill the gap by dragging the appropriate missing word - qui, que or dont - from the bottom of the table:

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